Your diet has a significant impact on your immunity because it affects the gut health which is also linked to immune system functioning. So, some food items boost the immune system, while others do the opposite. This concept is used in oriental medical practices like Ayurveda where you must abstain or consume certain foods when undergoing treatments. Many plant-based foods have the effect of enhancing the functioning of the immune system, and you can add them to your healthy meal prep. Read on to know more about plant-based food with immunity-boosting effects.
Signs That Your Immune System Needs Boosting
There are many outward symptoms when your immunity is low, and they are listed below:
- You get sick more often; colds linger longer, frequent fevers, etc.
- Digestion issues
- Feeling tired even after resting and in the morning
- Dry skin
- Frequent allergic reactions
Reasons For Weak Immune System
There can be multiple reasons for weak immunity, and one of the most cited reasons by medical professionals is stress. Other common reasons for this include environmental factors, genetic predisposition, side effects due to medicine, etc. The causes of the weak immune system are explained in detail below.
High Levels Of Stress
When stressed out, our body produces the hormone cortisol, which is also useful for warding off inflammation when required. However, chronic stress results in high levels of cortisol for a prolonged time. This causes inflammation and decreases T cells that are responsible for immunity. As a result, you become more susceptible to infections and fall sick. You can relax by taking a brisk walk, doing 10 minutes of exercise, or engaging in fun activities.
Lack Of Sleep
Inadequate sleep makes you more susceptible to infections. This is because it negatively affects your immune system due to the decreased number of T cells.
A sedentary lifestyle weakens your immune system, and this makes you more susceptible to sickness. This can be avoided by exercising as it improves blood circulation, provides good sleep, and thereby improves immunity.
A diet loaded with animal-based food products like red meat and dairy products has the effect of increasing inflammation in the body. Besides, sugary foods like sweets and desserts decrease gut health. These effects combined with lower immunity makes you more prone to falling sick. This can be avoided or prevented by eating more plant-based food and reducing the consumption of animal food products.
Plant-Based Food For Boosting Immunity
The compound allicin found in garlic has immune-boosting properties. It promotes the activity of white blood cells that destroy disease-causing pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and fungal particles. Besides, garlic is highly effective in destroying rhinovirus that causes the common cold and flu. To release this immune-boosting compound, you must cut, chop, crush, or chew garlic clove. Besides, to get maximum benefit, you must let freshly chopped garlic stand for 10 minutes and then add it into food, sprinkle on dishes, or swallow with water. Apart from this, as a homemade remedy for cold and cough, you can add it to honey and consume it after some time.
Like garlic, onions also contain the immune-boosting compounds allicin along with quercetin; the latter also helps to break up mucus in your chest, nasal cavity, and sinuses. The pungent smell of onions increases blood circulation which makes you sweat. This is especially useful during cold weather as it helps to ward off infections. Besides, consuming raw onion has the effect of boosting the immune system. You can have onions by chopping and adding them into recipes like soup, salads, gravy, etc.
Ginger has been used in the formulation of medicines in oriental medical practices. It soothes a sore throat, reduces fever, and removes mucus from the chest, throat, and sinuses. The therapeutic and medical effects of ginger are due to the anti-inflammatory compound shogaol along with gingerol that gives it the spicy kick. The latter compound also improves blood circulation and helps in opening sinuses. These effects detoxify the body and boost the immune system. Due to these reasons, ginger is useful for treating flu, headaches, nausea, and stomach aches.
You can consume ginger when you are sick in different ways. Homemade ginger tea is good when you are suffering from fever, cold, or cough. Also, you can place the sliced ginger root in a pot of water, bring it to boil, and then add cayenne or lemon juice. This makes the tea more effective and helps to detoxify the system.
Cayenne is a type of hot pepper that is a rich source of vitamin C which is essential for immune system functioning. It boosts the immune system by promoting the production of white blood cells. Besides, cayenne also contains beta carotene and antioxidants that aid the immune system. You can consume it by adding cayenne powder into warm water or lemon juice.
These immune-boosting plant-based food are used as ingredients when preparing meals to give added flavors. Using them at least once a day will ensure that you have good immunity.